The Anti-Culture Follies

Written by Armond White on . Posted in Arts Our Town, Arts Our Town Downtown, Arts West Side Spirit.

Up the Razzie Awards 

Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill

Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill

Problem is, The Razzies exist to prevent people from taking movies seriously. The habit of poking fun at bad movies isa  highly questionable practice for “film lovers.” Scoffing at bad films is an understandable impulse–although it probably shouldn’t go beyond in-your-seat theater derision. One of my favorite signs of life in cinema-going during 2013 occurred at a showing of Mud when the revelation scene of Matthew McConaughey’s rescue by Sam Shepherd utterly destroyed the film’s flimsy credibility: a male patron got out of his seat, headed for the Exit and issued a reverberant, lubricious RAZZZZZ!

Such righteous indignation is a paying customer’s entitled response to Mud, er uh, merde. A justified raspberry could be a healthy intellectual response, releasing the frustration felt when a film like Mud or Ain’t Them Bodies Saints or Identity Thief insults your intelligence; it can express feelings of skepticism and show evidence of taste—even satirical taste. That was the point of the Hasty Pudding Awards and Theatricals that were presented at Harvard University in the spirit of burlesque.

But The Razzies are something else, something less, something craven. By ignoring the bad cinema that gets life wrong, lacks esthetic standards and piles on pretentiousness, The Razzies gives the public no sense that quality even matters. To go after movies that are not popular, or that are merely popularly derided (like After Earth, Grown Ups 2) is shabby. This isn’t critical judgment, it’s just adolescent piling-on. The Razzies give no evidence of taste beyond the mob-mentality refusal to look at a film from a personal perspective. This craven approach helps protect the bad movies that get media acclaim and in doing so, The Razzies contribute to cinema illiteracy.

It might have been interesting if The Razzie singled out the lousiness of such films as Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the Tennessee Williams bowdlerizing in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Indeed, the greatest movie award calamity of the week was not at the Oscar nominations, it was Lee Daniels’ The Butler being snubbed by The Razzies. But to announce such independent taste and standards would amount to erudition. But The Razzies have nothing to do with learning, sophistication or culture. Like Rotten Tomatoes’ Golden Tomatoes Awards, this is all about anti-culture.

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